The Lowdown | ShutterFest 2023

Welcome to the ShutterFest Lowdown page. Here, you will find most of the information you need for the event. New to ShutterFest? Well, expect to learn more than you have ever learned before. ShutterFest is like no other conference out there. Not because we say so, but because your peers have said so. At this one-of-a-kind event, you will have access to educators like never before. They are here because they care about our industry and want to share EVERYTHING they know. No rockstar mentality allowed. You will network with your fellow photographers, make friends for life, and enjoy access to some of the best education available.

If you’re looking for structure, you are going to HATE ShutterFest. This is an event built on the idea that a little bit of chaos can lead to an endless amount of creativity and inspiration.

This is your career. Enjoy the journey. Enjoy learning, networking, shooting, laughing, and making new life-long friendships. You have the power to make the event what you want it to be. Want to focus on business? Spend your time in classes. Want to focus on building your portfolio? Great! Spend your time working with models, shooting all day and night.

Take everything you know about conferences and throw it out the window! ShutterFest is all about community. We are one big family. Everyone here loves photography and wants what’s best for the industry. It’s not about a rockstar mentality, it’s about growing as an artist and being around like-minded people who share the same love and passion you do.

Overwhelmed? YOU SHOULD BE. Take a deep breath and know that every year there are a bunch of new people who attend— they don’t know anyone, they are scared, overwhelmed, and every other emotion. It’s like your first day of high school all over again. It’s completely normal. And just like school, after your first class or two, and once your nerves have settled, you will have made new friends for life. Come, enjoy, and soak up all the energy and inspiration.

Be sure to tag us in your posts – the world is watching! #ShutterFest

Event Hours

Monday Early Registration: 2:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Tuesday: 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM // Party: 8:00 PM – Midnight

Wednesday: 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM // Bada Bing UNO Night: 8:00 PM – Midnight

Thursday: 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Friday (SF+): 8:00 AM – 6:30 PM

Host Hotels: Union Station Hotel (Main Hotel): SOLD OUT | Hilton Ball Park (Host Hotel): CLICK TO BOOK
***In order to get the ShutterFest Room Rate and get a goodie bag, you must book through the link below and reserve a room for a minimum 4 night stay during ShutterFest. (i.e. April 3 – April 7)***

Free shuttles will run from Hilton Ballpark to Union Station every 30 minutes at the following times:
1:00 PM — 9:00 PM on Monday, April 3rd, 2023
7:00 AM – 10:00 AM and 7:00 PM – Midnight on Tuesday-Thursday, April 4th-6th, 2023
7:00 AM – 12:30 PM and 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM on Friday, April 7th, 2023

Pickup from Hilton Ballpark will be at the Walnut Street entrance between the East & West tower. Pickup at Union Station to return to Hilton Ballpark will be outside of the Terminal Atrium

The App + Class Signups

Yes, there is an app. If today's date is before March 13th, you won't be able to log in to the app yet.

YOU WILL BE ABLE TO DOWNLOAD AND LOG IN TO the app on March 13th, 2023.

 What time? We don’t know yet. You’ll get an email when it happens. Promise. 🙂 

CLASS signups WILL BEGIN in the app AT 12:00 PM CENTRAL TIME (St. louis time) on March 20th, 2023. 

On March 13th, we will send an email invitation to the app to THE EMAIL YOU ENTERED IN THE “APP INVITATION EMAIL” FIELD WHEN YOU BOUGHT YOUR TICKET. This invitation email will be sent from guidebot@guidebook.comAdd this to your address book NOW, to ensure you receive the email. Check your junk folder. This invitation could get flagged as spam. If you don’t get the invitation by the end of the day on March 13th, reach out to us ( so we can resend it.

Does the app work on a tablet/iPad? Yes. If you can access the app store, you should be able to download and use the app.

Does the app work on a laptop or desktop? Yes! You can access the app via a web browser at

Do I have to register for classes? Yes. Space is limited. The system will only allow you to register for one class per time slot. So, be sure to register for your MUST-HAVE classes first.

How do I sign up for classes? In the app, you will be able to add the classes you want to your schedule. Classes are on a first come first serve basis. Hands-on classes are limited to 50 attendees. Max capacity for lecture and live demonstration classes are based on the capacity of each room or space. Be sure to save your schedule on the app and choose wisely! We recommend taking a screenshot or writing down your schedule in case there are issues with WiFi in the hotel.

How many classes can I register for? You will be limited to one class per time slot. (That’s 9 official classes, plus all the Rent-A-Human and after hours shoots you can handle!)

Time slots for classes on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are:

  • 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
  • 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
  • 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM

There are too many classes. How will I attend them all? Welcome to ShutterFest, ladies and gentlemen. You will never, let me repeat, NEVER attend every class, every shooting exercise, every outdoor class, and that is the point. We created ShutterFest to be overwhelming. We want there to be TOO much good information and too much to do. Some advice: Where are you weak? What are the 3 or 4 things you want to walk away with from ShutterFest? Find those courses and go at it full power!

What if the class I want is completely booked? We don’t guarantee any single class, but don’t fret. ShutterFest is not about any single class. You have access to Photo Walks, Center Stage, Demo Zone, Rent-a-Human, and tons of classes and shoots on the trade show floor. We promise, you will not be disappointed. Pivot, try something different, and enjoy the conference. It’s unlike anything you have ever been to.

AGAIN, we do not guarantee access to any single class. Add yourself to the waitlist or sign up for another class. People drop in and out of classes all the time, so you never know if a spot will open. 

If I don’t like the class I’m in, or am not registered for a class, can I just go to any class? If there is open capacity in the class, yes. You will need to check in with the speaker or speaker assistant so they can mark you present. Don’t forget to be respectful of your fellow attendees – nobody likes the guy that jumps in front of everyone in line in a class he didn’t even register for, so don’t be that guy. 😉 

Will I get a chance to shoot in a hands-on class? Hands-on classes are always crowded, but this year we are taking measures to make sure that the 50-person limit STAYS at 50 people by taking attendance via the ShutterFest App. Speakers are also encouraged to split attendees into smaller groups to give everyone a chance to shoot. Don’t want to be in a crowded class? Perfect! Grab a small group of people and a model and start your own hands-on shoot.

What’s the difference between lecture, live demonstration, and hands-on classes?

  • Lecture: These are non-shooting courses. Typically classroom based, bring your laptop and notepad and focus on learning!
  • Hands-On: These are shooting courses. You will be shooting and working. Bring your camera, gear, or whatever you need for the course and to create images. Expect to have some level of shooting.
  • Live Demonstration: These are instructor-led courses where you will see a live demonstration of what the instructor is teaching. You can still bring your cameras to these courses and you can photograph, but the goal of the course is NOT for you to shoot or to ensure you get a shot. The goal is for you to see how and why the instructor does what he/she does in order to get the final result.

Is there an additional fee for classes? Nope! Unlike other conferences, there are no additional or hidden fees. Don’t see a course you like, or the one you want is completely booked? Not a problem, check out the Rent-A-Human program or practice your lighting at the Shooting Bays.

How can I see what classes I am currently registered for? Log into the app to track the classes you are registered for by clicking “My Schedule” in the navigation bar. Select the date to see your schedule for that day.

What if I change my mind and want to register for a new class? No problem. When viewing your schedule within the mobile app, click the check mark next to the class you would like to remove. It will ask you to confirm that you want to unregister. REMEMBER: Classes are first come first serve. If the session fills up you may not be able to re-register for this class. Once you have confirmed you want to unregister, you will be able to register for the new class. Register for the new class you want by following the instructions in the how-to-guide.

Can I reserve a spot for someone else? No. They must register themselves with their account.

Can I teach my own class? No. This is not allowed per event rules. If you would like to be an instructor, apply to teach and your time will come. As an attendee at the event, attend the courses and the program we have assembled for you. We have spent a lot of time and energy to put together an amazing program for you with some of the best speakers and educators out there. Enjoy the conference. Now, that’s not to say you can’t help one another. Of course you can, that’s the culture of ShutterFest. However, it sends the wrong message to attendees if random people decide they want to be instructors. The hotel and its property is 100% paid for by ShutterFest, please respect that.

What if I want to shoot the entire conference? Perfect! You have come to the right conference. Check out the Rent-A-Human program below. We have ~300 models for you to work with for FREE.

Will we get slides from the classes? Yes, if you receive the goodie bag (see below). Unlike other conferences, we give you all the presentations from the classroom courses.

Event Check-in/Registration

Registration will be in the Grand Hall of Union Station and you will need your photo ID to check in and get your badge.

What time will registration be open?

Monday: 2:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Tuesday: 7:30 AM – 4:00 PM

Wednesday: 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Thursday: 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM

What do I need for registration? Your driver’s license or photo ID. You will not be able to check in without it. Not even if your dog ate it.

Is there a deadline to get a badge with my name on it? Yes, because the badges are printed far in advance. If you purchase your ticket after March 3rd, you will not get a badge with your name on it. We will have “random name badges” for you instead. Don’t worry, sometimes the fake names we come up with are even better than having your real name. Plus, it’s a great conversation starter 🙂 

Do I need to have anything printed? Nope! Just your driver’s license or photo ID. We have a list of names at the registration desk.

Can I pick up my friends/spouses/other badge? No. They will have to come and show their ID to pick up their badge. No exceptions.

I don’t have a ticket. Can I just show up? We love all photographers, but for this event, you need a ticket! The event always sells out. There is no guarantee you will be able to purchase a ticket at the door, but if there is space left, you can. The price for a general admission ticket will be $299. You snooze, you lose. Don’t wait. Buy your ticket now –

Can I transfer my ticket or get a refund? No. This has been outlined dozens of times and it’s even listed on the site before you order your tickets. There are a multitude of reasons why we have this policy. Here is the main reason – the event is THE most inexpensive educational event on the PLANET bar-none. The event is also limited in size – once it sells out – it’s sold out! We are offering you hands-on shooting, portfolio building, top level educators – would cost $1k at other events. You know what you paid for your ticket. Well, in the beginning, people were buying 5 tickets at a time and selling them on eBay for $500 and that goes against the event and why we created it. Hence, no transfers or refunds. This ensures that no one can scam the system and we keep your ticket price affordable. So death, charities, mission trips, terminal illness, can’t afford to come, and the dozens of requests or reasons for a transfer or refund, our sincerest apologies, but this is a policy that has no wiggle room. We hope you understand the in-depth explanation we have provided

T-Shirts & Swag

How do I get a t-shirt? This year we’ve teamed up with PhotoFlashDrive to bring you ShutterFest t-shirts, hats, hoodies, glasswear, water bottles, tote bags, and of course, flash drives! Swag will be available for purchase in PhotoFlashDrive’s booth on the trade show floor. **Link to purchase coming soon!**

I preordered a t-shirt. How do I pick it up? You can pick up pre-ordered shirts during trade show hours at the Photo Flash Drive booth.

How do I get a t-shirt at the event? How much are they? Shirts will be available for purchase at the show in the Photo Flash Drive booth.

Goodie Bags + Flash Drive

As you are all aware, ShutterFest is EXTREMELY affordable compared to other conferences of this size. We can do this because of the negotiated terms with the host hotel. As a thank you for supporting the event and staying in our room block at the host hotels, everyone staying in our room block at Union Station or the Hilton Ballpark will get access to the digital goodie bag & flash drive.

To receive access to the goodie bag you must be:

  • An attendee at ShutterFest. Don’t expect to get goodie bags for your husband, friend or dog whose name is on the room but not attending ShutterFest. Stop gaming the system. 🙂
  • Booked under the SF23 ROOM BLOCK (all 4 nights) and have your name on the hotel room by March 30th, 2023 @ 11:59 PM CST. NO EXCEPTIONS. Adding names to reservations after March 30th is allowed, they just won’t get access to the digital goodie bag.

How do I add my name to a room reservation at the host hotel? The only person that can add names to a room reservation is the person that made the reservation. For example: If John made the reservation, John can add Kim, Cindy, and Donnie. Donnie cannot add himself to John’s reservation – only John could do that.

So, if you want to be added to a room reservation to get a goodie bag, you will simply need to have the person who booked the room add your name to the reservation. This can be done 1 of 2 ways:

  1. Add all additional guest names to the reservation at the time of booking (this can be done both online or if you’re making a reservation over the phone).
  2. If booking is complete and you wish to add guest names later, the person whose name is on the original reservation can call the hotel to add additional guest names. Tip: ALWAYS make sure you receive the confirmation email so you have proof.

There’s no need to mention goodie bags when you call, just make sure your room is booked inside the ShutterFest room block and you have any additional guests confirmed on your room.

Why do I have to stay at the host hotels to get a goodie bag? Well, quite simply and transparently, we get a major discount for the hotel meeting spaces if our attendees stay at the host hotel. These savings are passed on to you in the form of an incredibly LOW registration fee. There is no other conference loaded with this much education for this price. Anywhere!

So, the goodie bag is an incentive and reward for those who stay at the host hotel and help support the event. If not, we would have to raise prices for the event and no one wants that.

How do I get the goodie bag? There will be a station at registration where you can go to pick up your flash drive. Vendor specials will be available digitally. 

***WARNING*** Trying to game the system will only serve to frustrate the event and the spirit of ShutterFest. The bags are there to entice you to stay at the host hotel to keep ticket prices low for everyone. Gaming this by adding people to your room that are not staying at the hotel, etc will lead to bags being forfeited for the entire room if caught. If you have a problem with this please message Sal directly – there will be no exceptions to this policy.

Will I receive a goodie bag if I stay at the host hotel for one night then switch hotels? No. Stop gaming the system. You have to be part of the ShutterFest room block (all 4 nights) and room rate for ShutterFest. This is a reward for staying at the host hotel – which is giving the event an EXTREMELY reasonable rate in return for the hotel rooms being booked. And guess what? This keeps your ticket price low.

What’s in the Goodie Bag? Exclusive savings & specials from our vendors and speaker slides from all lecture and some live-demonstration courses.


What gear should I bring? Bring whatever you want to shoot with (and are willing to schlep around the event) — camera bodies, lenses, flashes, tripods, etc. It’s a shooting conference. You’re a photographer. Do the math. 🙂 

Is there a place to store my gear at Union Station? Nope, unless you’ve got a friend that has a room. So pack light, or invest in a rolling cart!

Will there be gear to rent at the event? Yes. We have select vendors at the event that will have limited gear for you to rent.

Will Canon CPS be back? Yes! More details will be available in the ShutterFest App. 

Can I buy gear at the show? Yes. The Pixel Connection will be selling camera gear.


Food Trucks: We will have food trucks again this year for meals. On April 4th-6th, we will have food trucks on site for lunch. At SF+ we will have food trucks on site for lunch. We know. It’s pretty bad-ass. Conference food already sucks, so we wanted to do something that was ShutterFest-worthy. And no, we are not paying for your lunch. 🙂 

Coffee, Mimosas & Bloody Mary Stations: By popular request, we will have coffee stations where you can purchase that sweet, sweet caffeine each morning from 7AM – 10AM (locations TBD). And, for you ShutterFesters who take the “Party” in “Shoot. Learn. Party.” seriously, we will also have mimosas and bloody marys available to purchase from 8AM – 10AM. 

Other Restaurants in & Around Union Station: Click here for the most up to date list of food options at Union Station. Landry’s is located outside near the lake. The Soda Fountain restaurant is located outside Union Station (where the Hard Rock used to be). The Train Shed is located outside the aquarium. The 1894 Cafe is located on the second floor of Union Station by the Hall of Mirrors. Station Grille is located right behind the Grand Hall on the second floor of Union Station. Starbucks is located in the Grand Hall by the gym.


SF+ is an entire day dedicated to advanced business, marketing, lighting & editing classes, held the day after the general conference. Classes will be two hours and cover more advanced material than the classes on the first three days, so expect a deep dive!

SF+ will take place on April 7th from 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM

Food Trucks will be there for the lunch break, which lasts 1 hour.

There will be a FREE shuttle running from Hilton BallPark to Union Station from 7:00 AM – 10:00 AM & 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM.


Click here to register for SF+ or to see more info on speakers and topics.

Do I have to register for SF+ classes in the app? Yes, if you are an SF+ ticket holder, you will have access to register for your classes in the app, in the same way you register for classes on Tuesday – Thursday.


Tuesday Night: Mad Max/Wasteland | 8:00 PM – Midnight

Wednesday Night: Bada Bing UNO Night (video coming soon!) | 8:00 PM – Midnight 

All parties are held in the Grand Hall of Union Station Hotel.

Top Talent Competition

Collaborate. Shoot. Enter for a chance to win cash & prizes! 

The Top Talent Competition will be BACK in 2023. Every image you send to models through the ShutterFest Model Gallery earns you a chance to win big. More details coming soon! 

Rent-A-Human (aka RAH)

Aptly named by our comedian from ShutterFest 2014, Pat McGann, this is now the name of our model program.

What is Rent-A-Human? This is our FREE modeling and portfolio building program at the event. Since ShutterFest is a hands-on shooting conference, we realize the need for lots and lots of models. Work hands-on and practice what you’ve learned in class with a model across many genres: High School Seniors, families, babies, children, glamour, boudoir, weddings, general portraits, fashion, fitness and same-sex.

Do I have to pay to rent a model? No. The Rent-A-Human program is completely free.

Do I have to have my own model release form? Model releases have been signed by all models prior to the event, and you are completely covered for official ShutterFest classes, Photo Walks, and Rent-A-Human sessions. For after-hours shoots, you WILL need to obtain your own release.

When can I rent a model? Models will be available to work with on Tuesday – Thursday from 9:00 AM -12:00 PM and 2:00 PM – 5:30 PM. RAH will be closed from 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM – NO EXCEPTIONS.

How does it work? First, form a group of 2-5 photographers. Next, go to Rent-A-Human Station #1 to grab and fill out your Model Request form. Next, head to Station #2 to turn in your form, show your photo ID, and pick up your model. You will be able to take the models on location for outdoor shooting or anywhere inside Union Station (except the aquarium and other prohibited areas below). After 1 hour, you will return your model to Station #3. 

How long do I have to shoot with my Rent-A-Human model? You will have 1 hour to work with the model. We will be monitoring check out times and return times, and if you are late returning the models, you will no longer be allowed access to the Rent-a-Human program for the remainder of the event. Please note – this applies to your entire team. You are a team – you win together, you lose together.

How many models are there? We will have ~300 models at this year’s event

Hair & Makeup: TSPA St. Louis and Refine Beauty will be volunteering their time and resources to provide top notch hair and makeup for the models!

Can I bring in my own hair & make up artist? If you would like to bring your own hair and makeup artists, they will not be able to set up inside Union Station.

What kind of wardrobe is available through Rent-A-Human? We will have over 60 wedding and fashion gowns – many from Team Cincotta’s own wardrobe – that the models will be able to utilize. Models are also instructed to bring other outfits for their shoots. If you are looking for a stylized shoot, feel free to bring an outfit or two of your own.

Can I pick the model or category I want to shoot? You can specify two category choices on your Model Request form – we will do our best to supply you with your first request, but we cannot guarantee that model type will be available. Models are based on availability, time of day, etc. Again, you are not guaranteed any specific model or genre. We will do our best. Models CAN NOT be selected by name. If you want to set up a shoot with a specific model, you will need to coordinate directly with that model OUTSIDE OF RAH HOURS.

Can I bring my own wardrobe for a Rent-A-Human model? Yes! If you would like to bring an outfit or other clothing accessories for the models, you are more than welcome to do that. Don’t forget, we have wedding dresses available on site for bridal and the male models have been instructed to bring suits.

Where can I go to shoot? You may shoot anywhere in or around Union Station EXCEPT the following locations:

  1. The Aquarium 
  2. All public restaurants
  3. Mirror Maze

Wherever you decide to go, be mindful of your time for Rent-A-Human! Wandering too far will eat into your shooting time.

Can I plan my own after hours shoots? Shooting after hours is not only encouraged, it’s expected. ShutterFest is something that goes on all day and into the late hours of the night. You will have to coordinate with the models directly on this because each model has time and travel restraints. Please note: after-hours shoots must be planned after RAH hours. During RAH hours, models are needed for Rent-a-Human. (AKA, the main reason they are at the event)

Sharing Images with Models/Model Gallery

This is where we have to show our ShutterFest love. Models are here for free. In return, you are expected to share your images with them for their portfolios. They are working to build their portfolio and they need your help for that to happen. Please share your images!

We have created a Model Directory to enable you to find models you worked with and share images directly with them more easily. You can browse the model directory NOW at – AFTER the event ends, there will be a button under each model’s name that you can use to send the model their images! Images you send will also become part of our post-event gallery (and eligible for the Top Talent Competition!) automatically. 

Sizing your Images: Resolution for the image should be roughly 1300 pixels on the long edge @ 144 pixels. This is perfect for the web. If you use Lightroom for the export, this is easy.

Naming your Images: We recommend the following naming convention: ModelName_StudioName_SF23_Number.jpg


Beginner: Just starting out or relatively new to a given subject matter. Basics will be covered and the course will move at a slower pace. The instructor will spend a little more time trying to explain concepts to ensure everyone is following. On a scale of 1-10 consider this level a 1-3 on the given topic.

Intermediate: Has a grasp of some basic concepts. This course level will move at a faster pace and assume you have basic knowledge covered on the given subject matter. On a scale of 1-10 consider this level a 4-6 on the given topic.

Advanced: You have working knowledge of the given subject matter, but are looking for more fine-tuning and some advanced topics to take your work to that next level. DO NOT expect instructors to explain basic concepts in this course. On a scale of 1-10 consider this level a 7-10 on the given topic.

Class Types


These are shooting courses. You will be shooting and working. Bring your camera, gear, or whatever you need for the course and to create create images. Expect to have some level of shooting.

Live Demonstration

These are instructor-led courses where you will see a live demonstration of what the instructor is teaching. You can still bring your camera to these courses and you can photograph, but the goal of the course is NOT for you to shoot or to ensure you get a shot. The goal is for you to see how and why the instructor does what he/she does in order to get the final result.


These are non-shooting courses. Typically classroom-based, bring your laptop and notepad and focus on learning!